Understanding multi-stakeholder dialogue the emerging concept of community of practice

Lorenzo Todorow Di San Giorgio

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    Multi-stakeholder dialogues (MSDs) are initiatives devoted to participative processes of consultation and decision-making (Hemmati, 2002). They involve national and international actors such as businesses, governments, NGOs and civil society. Over the last decade, MSDs have come to the forefront to address pressing global challenges such as sustainable development, climate change, the fight against corruption and the role of business in conflict prevention. The academic literature on those processes has so far highlighted their potential to foster collective learning (Payne and Calton, 2002; Calton and Payne, 2003), consensus building through problemsolving (Turcotte and Pasquero, 2001) and interactive decision-making (Yosie and Herbst, 1998). However an important aspect which has so far been neglected by the academic literature is the way participants experience and conceptualize those initiatives. This paper will analyse a case study of two MSD initiatives organized by the UN Global Compact (UNGC) and Principles for Responsible Investment (PRI) as part of the project of “Responsible Business and Investment in Conflict-affected Areas”. According to the data being gathered it will be shown how MSDs are primarily described as communities of practitioners in which interpersonal relationships among the participants involved are nurtured through discussions and dialogues on common areas of interest. By showing the similarities between the participants’ descriptions of these two initiatives and the main tenets defining a “community of practice” as conceptualized by Wenger (1998), Wenger et al.(2002), conclusions and recommendations for further studies will be proposed.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)8-31
    JournalBusiness, Peace and Sustainable Development
    Issue number7
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2016


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